Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Collection

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars
When Mike Cullen's play about a debt collector's guilt-induced meltdown 
first appeared in 1995, the idea of people committing suicide because 
they were unable to pay their debts was hardly mainstream news. Fast 
forward eighteen years, and barely a week goes by without some kind of 
poverty-induced tragedy occurring.

Cullen's play, revived here by Rapture Theatre, focuses on the macho 
men in suits who  prey legally on those who fall into a spiral of debt 
as it navigates its way through the murky moral vacuum that goes with 
the job description. At the heart of this is Bob Lawson, a man once 
unwavering in his determination to collect, but who, as his boss Joe 
makes clear to rookie Billy, has been left broken after a female client 
kills herself. Now Lawson treats Elena and all his other woman 
defaulters with kid gloves lest lightning strike twice. He records his 
conversations with them as he sees the ghost of the dead woman in all 
their faces, unable to cope with what his job has done to him.

This is a tough cookie of a play penned in the spirit of of David Mamet 
by way of Macbeth. Michael Emans' production features a hangdog Jimmy 
Chisholm as Lawson, who becomes terminally emasculated, both by his 
colleagues and by Pauline Turner's increasingly desperate Elena. If the 
second act threatens to teeter out of control, it also makes clear the 
double-edged sword of the play's title, because Cullen's play isn't 
about money per se. It's actually more about power, control and the 
psycho-sexual charge behind both in a damning indictment of how 
capitalism corrupts at every level.

The Herald, September 12th 2013

ends

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